Monday, December 17, 2018

SIDEBAR: Tony Norskog on Our Daily Red's Origins and Market Success

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Tony Norskog
Another early no added sulfites organic wine pioneer, Tony Norskog, started Our Daily Red and his other brands in 1989; today its wines still selling for $5 a bottle at Trader Joe's.

"They cost half as much as Frey Vineyards," he said.

By 2012, he was selling 150,000 cases a year for all three of his labels including Well Red and Orleans Hill, his varietal wines brand. "Ninety nine percent was red wine," he said.

He also sold 2,000 cases of of Our Daily Red in boxes at Trader Joe's.

"We had double the sales of Frey," he said "until Frey got picked up by Costco."

Norskog said there was a time when supermarkets were not interested in organic wine at all. Then came the rise of organic foods and Whole Foods stores spread like wildfire, he said.

"In the 1990's, Publix, Raley, Safeway - they would not talk to you. But by 2000, these wines were in the mainstream," he said. "By 2005, they were calling me and wanting big distribution - first Wegman's, then the Safeway's and Krogers."

"If you ran a grocery store back then, you'd be reading grocers monthly magazine, and every third issue would have another story about Whole Foods' double digit growth. That was all through the 90's" he said. "They were the darling of supermarket chains."

Then the other supermarkets began to drive growth with organic food and, for some, organic wines.

"They sold our wines in Florida at Publix," he said, "and little blue haired ladies liked the wines because they were clean."

But, he says, organic wine in America (produced in any form) has lagged behind Europe. "In the U.S. we got no help," he said, "whereas in Europe, there were subsidies for converting to organics."

In 2012, Norskog sold his brands WX Brands in Novato. "It was growing at about 5 percent a year at that point," he said in an interview this summer.

Sales of all three of Norskog's former no added sulfites organic brands continue growing at 8 percent annually, according to its current owner, WX Brands with the Our Daily Red Cab increasing 19% over the last year, according to the company. Altogether, the three brands sold 156,000 cases this year.

"Florida, California, Colorado, Washington are the largest markets. We have seen a lot of interest in the vegan community, as well as individuals with sensitivity to sulfites," said Kate Eckert, associate brand manager for national brands at WX Brands.

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